Friday, March 12, 2010


Gracie’s first day visiting the injured soldiers at the Fisher House was nothing short of inspirational. Dressed in her blue vest, a star spangled bandana and her camo leash and collar, she was more than ready.

As we arrived, it was lunch time. Soldiers, babies, wives, moms and volunteers made it seem almost like an afternoon picnic outside on a patio that could have been anywhere. On this warm Spring day, Gracie burst head first into this place of intentional healing and hoping. She was ready to do what she does best by spreading a little sunshine...and love.

Jason’s knees had been blown up by the insurgents in Iraq. His mom had just left to go back to Colorado, and he sat alone at a round table, under an umbrella, directly in the large shadow of the Center for the Intrepid. He looked lonely and somewhat sad as he sat with his injured leg elevated on one of the chairs. I noticed his crutches were leaning against his chair, as I wondered if he wanted company or to be left alone.

There being only one way to find out, I asked if he would mind if Gracie and I took a break and sat with him for a while. He most graciously said, “Oh yes, ma'am, that would be fine.” I had the sense that he wanted to stand up and pull out a chair for me and then remembered he couldn’t.

My instinct always is to bring normalcy to an awkward situation. While I busied myself with something else, I asked if he would pour water from Gracie’s water bottle into her dish. He said, “Absolutely!” Contact made!

We sat together for quite a while. He held the leash and protected Gracie, making certain she was always under the shade of the patio umbrella, as he told me about waiting for a femur from a cadaver. He had had two potential femurs but both had been found to be infected while he was hospitalized awaiting surgery. He told me about his mom and his dad, the mountains and wildflowers in Colorado, his dogs, his life, his hopes and how hard it is to wait. Waiting to find life again after war - waiting to find his future.

He petted, scratched and talked endlessly to Gracie. He said he had always loved dogs. I asked if he would hold Gracie’s leash while I went inside the Fisher House to get him a copy of the Special Edition of Penny’s From Heaven: Stories of Healing. He seemed grateful for my trust in him to care for Gracie, if even for just a moment, and anxious to spend some ‘alone time’ with her, perhaps telling her things he wouldn't,or couldn't, tell me.
After purposely taking a little longer than necessary to get the book, I went back and thanked him for his service to Gracie and to our country. He looked at the book and told me how much he appreciated it. I asked his first name so that I could autograph it. He unashamedly looked at me and asked if it would be okay to autograph it to his mom. I had done real well up until then. At that moment the ever-ready lump in my throat once again surfaced. You see it was only two weeks before Mother’s Day and Jason had no way to get his mom a gift. “Mom is everything to me; she’s been through alot.” I signed the book and told his mom thank you for such an amazing young man and his service and sacrifice to defend and protect the greatest country on earth.

We sat a little longer, watched, and occasionally commented on soldiers' children running and playing, people coming and going, and life going on, all freedoms he helped to protect and defend while in Iraq. Protecting these freedoms is what got him to the Fisher House- injured, healing, hoping, and waiting.

It was getting hot and I needed to get Gracie out of the sun.  It was time to leave Jason, but I knew I would see him again soon. He thanked me and shook my hand. I told him that simply wasn’t good enough, as I navigated past his injured legs and crutches to give him a big hug and a whispered a heartfelt thank you. Gracie let out one of her famous, ‘Aroooos’ to show her joy as well  at having met this remarkable young man.

After this first day with Jason, I saw him on many, many more visits to the Fisher House over the next year and a half.  Today he is back in the mountains of Colorado and very blessed to be alive! 

I miss him.  He was a friend. I wish him well. And more importantly I thank him! 
"Let’s not make such a habit of hurry and work that when we leave this world, we will feel impelled to hurry through the spaces of the universe using our wings for feather dusters to clean away the star dust.”
~Laura Ingalls Wilder~

"Live the questions.  Wait for the answers."
Author Unknown

"Healing is embracing what is most feared: healing is opening what has been closed, softening what has hardened into obstruction, healing is learning to trust life."
~Jeanne Achterberg~


To help Penny's From Heaven Foundation help other soldiers just like Jason, please consider
suupporting us. 

More inspirational and motivational quotes and photographs are found in the three
Pockets of Peace books.  Three Dollars will provide a book for a soldier or someone in need.  Further information is found on our website!  We welcome your help as soldiers wait - healing and hoping!

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